Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Veto of Bill for the Relief of Mrs. Josette L. St. Marie.

June 14, 1954

To the House of Representatives:

I am returning herewith without my approval, H.R. 6452, 83d Congress, "An Act For the relief of Mrs. Josette L. St. Marie".

The bill proposes that Frank P. St. Marie's death in service on March 9, 1943, shall be held and considered to have been in line of duty.

Private St. Marie, then on active service in the United States Army, committed suicide on March 9, 1943, while in confinement because of excessive use of alcoholic beverages. The military department determined that his death was in line of duty, while mentally unsound, and not the result of his own misconduct. The claim of Mrs. Josette L. St. Marie for death compensation as dependent mother was denied by the Veterans' Administration on the ground that death was due to the soldier's own misconduct.

It appears that favorable action by the Committees which considered H.R. 6452 was based upon disagreement with the determination of the Veterans' Administration and a belief that the military department's determination is entitled to greater weight and should be controlling. The basic issue in this case involves the adjudicative function of evaluation of evidence to determine whether the soldier's death was in line of duty and not due to his own misconduct for purposes of death compensation. The statutory duty of making such determinations is the sole responsibility of the Veterans' Administration. I am informed that the conclusion of the Veterans' Administration in the case is fully substantiated by the evidence of record, and in my judgment it is unwise to adjudicate individual cases by private legislation.

To prefer this case for special treatment to the exclusion of other similar cases would be unwarranted and discriminatory. In this regard, I am advised that during the past six years approximately 1000 claims for service-connected death compensation in World War II cases alone have been denied on the ground that the veteran's death was due to his own willful misconduct. Further, it is understood that there are no dependents of World War II veterans on the death compensation rolls as a consequence of enactment of a private law. Approval of H.R. 6452 could result in the placing of such a dependent on the mentioned rolls, and possibly retroactively for almost a nine-year period. Thus, its approval would constitute a far reaching precedent which I cannot justify.

I am opposed to setting aside the principles and rules of administration prescribed in the public laws governing veterans' benefit programs. Uniformity and equality of treatment to all who are similarly situated must be the steadfast rule if the Federal programs for veterans and their dependents are to be operated successfully. Approval of H.R. 6452 would not be in keeping with these principles.


Dwight D. Eisenhower, Veto of Bill for the Relief of Mrs. Josette L. St. Marie. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232160

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